110. Our relationship with stuff, and other decluttering questions

A popular topic I life coach moms on is their relationship to their stuff and decluttering their home.  I wanted to share a Q+A time for more questions about decluttering.  I asked for your decluttering questions in the Simple on Purpose FB group and on Instagram. Here is my life coaching advice on these topics.

Here are the decluttering questions I am answering today:

  1. How do we begin when it all just feels so overwhelming? For instance: if I start decluttering A, I first have to do B, but to do B and I have to do C, but to do C…and the spiral continues until I give up and sit on the couch.
  2. I like things. But I love how I feel in more empty spaces. However, my stuff also brings me joy and represents me. How do I keep myself in my space but not the clutter?
  3. What do I do about the little spaces of clutter – like drawers small countertops and anywhere I can cram crap for a moment to do other things?
    • The hot spots in our spaces and the gift of done
  4. Keeping most members of the household interested in maintaining a decluttering space… I try to have homes for everything and things still get put away in the wrong home or left somewhere completely random.




Hey friends, it’s Shawna, your nerdy girlfriend and life coach from simple on purpose.ca Welcome to the simple on purpose podcast. The quick and easy and I hope fun podcast for you busy moms on the go. You want to just take a hot minute, slow it down, get re centered on the things that matter to you. So you can make space and time and energy for the life that you want instead of the life that’s just happening on autopilot.

Welcome to spring friends, I just went for a walk with my bestie we walked her along the river, it was blue skies and sunshine. And it was just so nice to see her face. And I think we’re all experiencing this past year has really put our relationships into a whole new spin. And we see each other so much less, and I just miss her so much. I’m texting, it just cannot beat talking to your friends faces. So I hope that you find a way to see your friends faces this week, lined it up, go for a walk, meet somewhere outside, just go see your friends faces it makes such a big difference.

Alright, let’s get into today’s q&a on decluttering. I asked in the Facebook group, the simple on purpose community group, which if you aren’t part of you should totally join by the way. And I also asked on Instagram, what your questions were for me around decluttering. So I’m going to jump into those. The first one is how do we begin when it all just feels overwhelming. For instance, if I start decluttering a, I have to do B and then to do b i have to do see. And this, this spiral continues until I give up and sit on the couch.

relatable, right? I totally understand this. Like, I want to declutter the kitchen, but I need space in the hall closet for those extra dishes. And if I need to make space in the hall closet, I need to move towels in the bathroom, which means I need to declutter the bathroom. Right?

So to me, the obvious dancer is to follow the spiral all the way down. If I follow this all the way down, where does it tell me that I should logically begin? And I think most of us know that on the surface like okay, maybe I’ll start with the bathroom. But the problem is now that we’ve gone through all of that mental energy, figuring out what we need to do, that actually feels like real action to our brain. As we’re visualizing it and thinking about what else needs to get done. Our brain thinks that work is actually getting done it over welcomes us when we think about Okay, now let’s actually do it physically instead of just mentally.

So it’s so natural that we’re going to feel mental fatigue from that. Which also means now that we’re going to go sit on the couch, instead of trying to find some magical energy reserves that we have to get us motivated. So it might be a matter of creating a strategy for yourself, where you are writing out what you want for each room, what needs to be done, or likewise following that spiral down to see where you want to start. And you really don’t need to see the whole pathway, let’s just get the next couple of steps done. So if I know that I want to do the kitchen, the hall closet and the bathroom, like let’s just write that down and make a plan for these next few steps. So we’re going to spend some time expanding our mental energy on making a strategy. And then we can move into using our physical energy. So we’re moving from taking passive action in our mind to taking productive physical action. Another thing that might be going on is the matter of talking yourself out of doing the work, which is totally normal. We all do it. So investigate that for yourself. Am I just talking myself out of doing the work? It makes sense. I mean, it takes a lot of energy, it probably won’t be fun. We’re not totally clear on what we have to do. And finally, it might also be a matter that there’s some all or nothing thinking going on that it has to look a certain way. things need to be 100% at each step. And if I wait until each space is perfectly in order to declutter another spot in my home, I’ll probably be waiting forever. Because we live here. things move around, things move in and things are out grown. So my strategy is often to just declutter. Anyways, a few years back, I decided to declutter my kitchen Hutch and it had multiple uses is I just knew it had to be addressed. It was just too many uses in one space. I had like office stuff, I had personal files, I had crap stuff, I batteries, I had candles, I had toys. I had like medical records. But I didn’t really have an office ready to receive all these. So I put them into a box named office. And as we worked on building an office space, I just had this box that I knew I needed to give things at home. This works when you can hold yourself accountable to doing that office soon. So I like to put things in boxes and label them and put them in the room they belong in. But I do need to trust myself that I’m going to do the work. And if you want some encouragement on that, listen to a recent episode called Do you trust yourself? The next question is I like things but I love how I feel in more empty spaces. However my stuff also brings me joy and represents me so how do I keep myself in my space but not the clutter and there are some pictures I see of minimalist spaces and almost feels like cold and lifeless to me. So I totally get this question because I like stuff. I like I like shopping for stuff even. But stuff isn’t the problem. It’s our relationship to the stuff that is. So start exploring that for yourself, what’s my relationship to these things? Do we buy things to feel better? And now we just have too much to manage? Do we have a lot of things but we don’t organize? or more importantly, we don’t maintain our organization? Do we not have a clear idea of who we are? So we keep buying all the options?

Is it a matter of identity clutter? And if you haven’t heard that term, I’m going to link a post about that in the show notes. Do we rely on stuff to display our identity? Like we almost need these external things to show the world who we are inside? Do we put too much stock in these things to create a certain experience for us? And not that all of these are an issue for you, but it’s just worth exploring how you got here and how you envision simplifying your space while still highlighting yourself in it? And maybe this means going item by item? And asking, Is this identity clutter for me? does it represent who I am now? does it represent who I want to be? Or is it more of who I think I should be? Or who I was, you can ask yourself? Is this thing in line with my higher values? What’s important to me right now? What are my actual hobbies and my actual interests? How do I make space for that to shine through? And even practical? Do I have room for it? I think of this really lovely bedroom set that we inherited, it was so beautiful, but we just didn’t have the room for it. So after a few years of trying to make it work in the space, and I knew were staying in this house for a long time, I knew I had to let it go. I knew I had to pass it on. It was hard, but also necessary. This question is about those spaces like drawers, small countertops, anywhere that, that I can cram crap for a moment and do other things in these spaces just get filled up. So I call these spots, hot spots. And you can find your hot spots in your home. If you take photos. And you notice over time, there’s always that pile there. It’s always at the front door, or on the counter or on the dresser, and what but what you’re doing is you’re also taking this and you’re making your hotspot somewhere hidden. You’re just putting things out of sight. And that never helps right to put things out of sight. And I’m not judging. I have a junk drawer in my room. And my bedroom dresser is my out of sight out of mind spot. But I think if we want to address it, the trick is to start looking at what’s there. And looking for a theme so we can know what strategy we want to take. So look for a theme and what do I most often shove away? What items what needs a better home is it like I’m often shoving away papers, or kids toys or pens. And I like bins for this or I just make piles on the table of here’s kid’s toys, here’s crop supplies, here’s some papers, and then I do something with them. So I just do a rough sort. You can also look at the stuff and maybe think what time of day, do I most often do this? Is it something I’m doing right before dinner? Is it something I do before company comes in starting to ask yourself? How can I be more proactive with handling these items and putting them away? Instead of feeling like it’s last minute? Or even? How can I hold these items until I have a better time to put them away? Do I need just a bin on the kitchen counter that it just gets gets filled up throughout the day. And then I hold myself accountable to putting these things away at the end of a few days or whatever. And I also think this is a matter. And I say this for myself too, is to give yourself the gift of done. It takes probably one whole minute to put it away properly. But we tell ourselves we don’t have the time, right. And like I don’t know about you. But I will easily spend a minute watching dance videos on Instagram. So I know I have that one minute to put something back on the right shelf that it belongs in. That’s just encouragement for you there. If that’s something you struggle with, like I do. I’m going to wrap this up with one more question. And I’m going to have a part two of this episode to cover the rest of the questions. This question is about keeping most members of the household interested in maintaining a decluttered space. So I tried to have homes for everything and things still get put away in the wrong home or left somewhere completely random and great question. I feel you like what the rest of the family isn’t excited about how I organized and labeled the pantry. What they don’t care about folding towels a certain way so they all fit. I don’t get a guy. This is me having a conversation with my family. So I think our first step is to not be surprised by it. And you’re like no, I’m not surprised. I know they don’t put stuff away. But when we just decide like I’m going to expect that they probably won’t put things away and I’m not going to get frustrated by it. I think that’s just removing the first layer right the first layer of dealing with the issue, because however we want to move forward and deal with it. We don’t want to do it from the emotion from the feeling of frustration. I think it’s much more beneficial when we act from a place of just acceptance and like, okay, no one really wants to follow my pantry system. Alright? This is an issue that I really do coach often on women having standards in their home that not everyone else has the same opinion on. And I think that’s what we’re not always seeing is that our

standards are not shared by everyone else. And that is okay. And that’s okay. Because what’s happening is we want our space to be a certain way so we can feel something. Often it’s I want my space to be clean, so I can feel calm and peaceful. Everything we want is because of how we think we will feel when we have it. So I want my kitchen counter clear, I feel ready and tidy, when it’s clear, my husband is a counter dumper. He has collections of stuff on the counter. And likewise with him, he wants the pine cones picked up the back lawn, I think it’s unnecessary. I kind of like the look of fine guns on the lawn. So neither of our standards are right or wrong. They are just different. And now what now how do we show up? Well, how do I want to maintain the standard for myself? Well, meeting everyone else where they are at? What do I want my kids to be doing? Do I want to raise kids to follow this system? How can I introduce these systems to them? How can I make it fun? And I would recommend getting started on one thing, like one of the organization systems you have get them really versed in that one. And rather than expecting everyone to be on board with how the whole house is organized, starting in one place that you know is going to bring you some benefit. Like maybe it’s the bathroom like I want people to put things back in the bathroom in the right spot, maybe that one place, and then asking yourself, how do I want to handle things when they aren’t being put away? Because I think this is really where the issue starts to double down on how stressful it is and on how it’s impacting our motherhood, in our experience of motherhood is okay, I’m frustrated, things aren’t put away. And now I’m taking it out not maybe not taking it out, because I don’t really know what your experience is. But let’s just say for example, now I’m acting frustrated to everyone. So how do I want to handle it if I wanted this peaceful home, but now I’m so frustrated that it’s not kept that way. I’ve lost the peace. I talked about this in an earlier episode number 69 will a simpler home bring me peace. And I really just want to encourage that all of our efforts to have a simple home there because we want to feel peaceful. So let’s make sure that we’re not losing the piece along the way in an effort to keep that. I’m going to follow up with part two and answer the rest of the really great questions. We’re going to talk more about creating a framework for decisions on what you get rid of and kids stuff and the emotions that we feel around decluttering. So tune in for that one. Whenever you’re ready.


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